Did Manchester United Ban Players From Using Social Networks... Or Alert People To Fake Accounts?

from the and-does-either-make-sense dept

ethorad alerts us to the news that the UK football/soccer club Manchester United put out a statement insisting that none of its players use any social network accounts. The club apparently says that it's just stating a fact -- to stop people from thinking they're communicating with real players when they're actually talking to impostors -- rather than forcing the players off of social networks. However, the BBC notes that there were three ManU players who were believed to have real Twitter accounts, and all have suddenly disappeared -- which suggests the real issue is that ManU banned players from using social networks to connect with fans. If that's true, it seems incredibly short-sighted. Yes, players need to be careful when communicating publicly, but blocking them off entirely doesn't help make fans any more loyal.

Filed Under: connecting with fans, manchester united, social networks

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  1. identicon
    Jerry Leichter, 26 Jan 2010 @ 3:08am

    Loyalty to who?

    I can understand the rationale. (I don't particularly agree with it, but it's understandable.) The team wants loyalty to the *team*, not to the individual players. There's a kind of "co-opetition" between individual stars and the teams they play on. On the one hand, stars bring fans to the games, which is what makes teams money - so the teams want to build up stars. On the other, when stars build up enough of a following independent of the team that they can walk to another team and take their followers with them, they get a very strong bargaining position relative to the team.

    The conflict plays out in all sports. Look at baseball in the US. For years, the teams had complete control on who could play where. Salaries remained low, even for the biggest stars. Then the teams were forced to allow free agency. Salaries for the stars exploded. The teams no longer captured all the profit.

    From the point of view of an intelligent team, the right thing to do is to somehow have an official team presence for its stars. They want fans interested and following - but in a way that's tied primarily to the team, and secondarily to the player.

    Now, what they *want* and what they can, in practice, *get* are two very different things. Since it isn't clear they can retain control over things like Twitter followers, the natural response is "live without 'em".

    -- Jerry

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